Archive for July, 2009

Eat-out review: The Gola Spot

I quite like the slush at this spot. Won’t comment much on the Gola because I’m not a fan of that stuff, except that others seem to love it too.

At The Monal parking lotAt The Monal parking lot

Working Women and Accommodation Problem

If you are a single working woman and you have taken up the bold decision of working in another city like Islamabad – please beware, you are going to encounter innumerable problems. However, one problem which you are going to face for sure is that of finding a reasonable accommodation. Yes, finding an accommodation in Islamabad is not going to be an easy task because the options available are limited for us ‘ working women’.

The first option before you is of staying with relatives if you have got the nerves to bear their objections and criticism with patience. This option is not a very practical one because your relatives can assume the role of your “guardians” since you are living with them and can simply ignore your own ‘privacy’ . The second option is of finding an independent flat or a portion if your pocket allows you to do so. However, my experience suggests that finding a flat or a portion for a single working woman is not an easy task. The house / flat owners will refuse to open their house for ‘inspection’ for you because they had some ‘bad’ experiences with earlier women tenants and they had observed some ‘objectionable movements’. In addition, the house/flat owners would also try to judge you by your overall appearance. They will straightforwardly refuse to take you as their tenant if you look ‘modern’ in any way.

The third option is of living in a hostel. Unfortunately, there are only three working women hostels opened by the government in Islamabad. Two of these government run working women hostels are only open for government employees. The third one, Nusrat Hostel is open to women working in private sector nevertheless it is not easy to get a room in Nusrat Hostel and you should have some “ tagri sifarish” if you want to get a place there.  The women workforce employed in the private sector is left with no option other than that of living in one of those un-registered private hostels which are opened up like wild mushrooms in every nook and corner of the capital city without any sort of check by the government.

The trend which has been observed as far as these private hostels are concerned is that the houses in which these hostels are opened up are not owned by the hostel owners but rather are rented ones and therefore the hostel owner will not pay any attention to the maintenance and cleanliness no matter how much you complain about it . You will be shown your way out of the hostel if you complain ‘ a little’ ‘ about the cleanliness to the hostel owners. As I said earlier that the hostel owners themselves are somebody else tenants therefore you should not expect a longer stay in any such hostel. Any hot argument between hostel owner and the real owner would result in hostel owner moving to some other locality and you hunting for another place you for yourself.

The rent of these private hostels could range from 6000-10,000 Rs on sharing basis and most of the time you will be sharing one small room with three or four other women. There is no guarantee that the room would be properly ventilated and the furniture (the only furniture available in most of these private hostels is bed and a closet) in not broken. If you want to get a single room in such a hostel then the rent could range from 16,000-32,000 Rs. You would not be allowed to cook in the hostel but would have to eat the hostel mess which normally comprises “daals and daals and vegetables full of spices” a sure guarantee that you eat less and therefore you are not going to put on extra weight as long as you are going to stay there.

In addition, to make your stay more exciting and entertaining for you and others,  from cook to the hostel owner, every one in the hostel would spread baseless gossips and rumours about you among other hostel tenants in order to keep their level of general knowledge updated about you. These gossips could be “Iss ney khufia shadi ker rakhi hey or apnay ghar waloon sey chup ker hostel mein reh rahi hey (she has married without her parent’s consent and that’s why she is living in this hostel), yeh dhanda kerti hey (she is a prostitute) so on and so forth.

It is ironic that working women, who are making every effort to be productive to their country, go through so many problems in Islamabad where unaccountable amount of money is being spent on providing security to VVIPs.   The unavailability of reasonable accommodation can effect mental well being of working women and their performance in their work place.  I wonder, why our government does not take concrete steps as far as provision of reasonable accommodation for working women is concerned? Yes, Why????

Koi Sadqah Khairaat?

So I’ve been curious about the different types of beggars around the city. It seems they all attend beggar academy and belong to one or another school of thought. This is evident from their begging style.

First, and most annoying, is the loudspeaker pitched, dark colored, short bearded (may be white), blind (not really) man accompanied by a young girl or boy. You can hear their very strange chants from the other end of the street. They can be found roaming the streets everywhere.

The second frequent one to run into are the boys with the shoulder bags. They are fairly well dressed, and all seem to have gelled hair. They all have the same sales pitch, which starts with ‘asalam alaykum aik baat kehni hae’, and can even instantly start weeping if you ignore them. They are mostly found in the 7th Avenue store parking area and whereabouts. I wonder what they carry in those shoulder bags.

And then there is the couple with the shopping bag full of clothes. They have come from some distant village and have somehow run out of money. So, in order to help them get back home, I gave them some money. An hour later, I saw them begging again in another market and I had to ask why they didn’t leave for home already. “O ji un paeson sae tu ham nae samosay shamosay kha liyay” was the smirking reply.

Another type is the one that asks for a lift in your car. He’ll soften you up with his crutches, and as you approach the destination, he’ll tell you the story that destroyed his life and about his children starving at home. I remember I used to see the same person everyday using the same technique.

Lets not forget the old short men around the Gourmet bakery area. I’ve been seeing these same faces for decades, as have my parents before me. These are the true masters of the weeping face.

And there are many many more (the pathans with the tools in Blue Area), but I’ll just mention a relatively new one. These are found in the F-11/G-11 areas. A couple, with their kids, on a donkey cart. The last one even deliberately parked in front of my car to make sure I glance at his begging gesture.

I suppose this practice seeps down from above, and for what its worth, at least these people are not stealing.

Solar Eclipse: July 22, 2009

Today many among us witnessed the longest solar eclipse of the 21st century in Pakistan along with other countries of the world. According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department the eclipse was supposed to start at 5:58 a.m. and end at 11:12 am. Earlier the MET department had also declared that a total solar eclipse would be visible from India, China, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Japanese Islands and South Pacific Ocean [Source: The News].

We did miss the “total” eclipse by ‘a country’ but whatever we got was worth having. The sun shadowed by the moon looked absolutely magnificent. It resembled a large cookie out of which somebody had neatly taken a large bite. For those of you who missed out on this event, here is a snap so that they may share in the experience as well. :-)

Solar Eclipse/Sooraj Grehan

Solar Eclipse/Sooraj Grehan

I hope all among us who witnessed this cosmic phenomenon protected their eyes as well and saw the eclipse through thick protective screens. I am not sure if it was protection enough but i used an x-ray to view the glorious sun. It was a sight worth seeing. :-)

Reflective Preposition.



Life perhaps?!~

“Picture taken at an apparent lake in Bahria Town”

Public display of PPP’s flags in Islamabad – Is it a democratic action by an elected government?

Public display of PPP’s flags in Islamabad - Is it a democratic action by an elected government?

Hoisted on the birth anniversary of Benazir Bhutto, yes, PPP’s flags are still ton display in the heart of Islamabad . Some 18 days have already but nobody knows how long these flags  will remian hoisted in the capital city.  These flags are giving Islamabad a look of PPP’s own capital rather than Pakistan’s capital . I wonder if this public display of PPP’s flags is the decision of some bureaucratic ‘chamcha’ who is trying to please our accidental-president Mr Zardari for some monetary gains or is it the decision of the federal government itself ? Well, whatever it is, this is a non-democratic action and could lead to political confrontation. Democracies do not behave in such a manner but such an attitude could be observed in countries where authoritarian rule is in place . Last year, we  have gone through a transition from an authoritarian system of governance to a democrtic system of governance.  Our elected government should at least show some democratic norms if they consider themselves ‘democratic’ or they should stop claiming to be a ‘democratic’ government.

Another cafe

Another cafe (Masoom’s) saw its opening ceremony last Friday in the basement of my office building. Better luck to these guys than the last two eating ventures that I’ve seen go out of business in the last two years, at the same location :)

Oh and the sight of the ‘couples’ made me uncomfortable using my camera so no pictures for now.

Location: Hassan Arcade , F-11 Markaz

Scavenger Children at Work in Islamabad

Scavanger Children at Work in Islamabad

This is summer vacation time in Islamabad for school going children but not for  Afghan scavenger children who in their ragged clothes, unwashed faces travel long distances everyday to pick recyclable waste in their waste collection bags from waste dumping points located in markets, residential areas as well as hospitals. Their parents are unskilled, illiterate and live in abject poverty. Parent’s poverty forces these kids into scavenging. While other children of their age are going to school, these scavenger children become earning hand of their poor families living in abject poverty. Nevertheless, they are not only exposed to various health hazards but also become victims of sexual abuse. We should appreciate the hard toil of these scavenger children because they, unlike hundreds of beggar children found begging in various markets and roads of Islamabad, are not begging but are earning their living through hard means.

Despite the fact that the Government of Pakistan is a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, the steps taken by the government to protect children rights are still invisible. I wonder if this is the sorry state of affairs in Islamabad as far as the implementation of Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 is concerned then what would be the situation of child scavengers in other parts of the country. My question to all of you is what our government should do to protect child scavengers from all sorts of exploitation and hazards? Should the government ban scavenging altogether keeping in view the associated health hazards for scavengers and promote a culture and awareness of recycling at the household level as is done in developed countries or should the government formulate a comprehensive policy for the rehabilitation of scavenger children while providing them free education and offering their poor parents some monitory assistance or should the government continue doing business-as-usual?

Nature’s canvas: Islamabad

Here’re some skyscapes I thought I should share with you from the last three days.


Daman-e-koh with little moon

Look closely at the magnificent brush strokes!


Where was Rawal Dam when this shot was being taken!

No photograph or words can express the magnificence of this sunset (FJ Park)

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